Aaron and I were nervous the rest of the evening. Luckily, it was pretty late and because we were all tired, we went to bed not even half an hour after we'd given each other really awkward hugs and a quick update on how our day had been. It was Rocco who called it a night first, and whether or not he knew it was Aaron and I who had caused disturbances in the elevator, we'd probably never know, and neither of us dared to ask. If he did puzzle the pieces together, at least he hid it well.
Early next morning I woke up from a little kiss and a warm hand on my cheek, and looked straight into the eyes I loved most of all. Aaron's loving gaze and a tired smile, instantly made me return it. Then I giggled when he stood back up next to the bed and grimaced.
"Yeah," he muttered.
"But nothing a black coffee and a couple of Advils won't cure. Sorry for waking you up, though. I just wanted you to know that I'll probably be late today."
"Okay? Overtime?" I asked, but hesitated when he looked away.
"Mhm. Lots to do with... Uhm... This new project. Didn't Quentin tell you about it last night?"
I squinted at him, and I could swear he was lying.
"I barely talked to him," I replied, and continued to scan him for the real answer. He wasn't going house searching by himself, was he? It wasn't that I didn't trust him, but I really wanted to have a say in it too.
"Oh. Well... It's a new project, or several actually. And..."
He checked his wristwatch and looked fake surprised.
"Oh, gosh. I gotta go."
Once again I tried to read him, but without getting any wiser. I just knew he was hiding something from me. Was it one of those women from yesterday? Did they tempt him to go back to his old lifestyle, and... No. I refused to even think that. But the fact that he used such a lame curse word instead of his usual 'fuck', was a clear sign that something was off. Besides, it didn't seem like his boss was too strict about coming a little late for work as long as he did his job, so what's the sudden rush?
"I'll take you out for dinner tonight to make up for it."
"And what about Rocco?"
"Shit. I forgot about him. Uhm. He can join?" he suggested with a shrug.
"I don't think he would like that. Being the third wheel isn't very funny."
"Tell me about it," he mumbled, and I suddenly realized that he played that part each time Rocco and I stayed over.
"I'm sorry. I didn't think of that," I apologized, feeling both insensitive and ignorant.
"Pff. It was worth every second of blue balls and desperate fist fucks in the shower."
And there he was. The cocky and snickering Aaron I knew, that made me blush even before I got out of bed.
He leaned down and gave me another kiss, and I was too embarrassed to worry about morning breath.
"Go back to sleep, beautiful. I'll text you later."
I kept blushing and tried not to giggle. He was such a peculiar man. But after he left, I started thinking about why he was acting so strange. The reasons could be many. And with his history, not many of them were especially good.
"Stop thinking like that," I said to myself, but I couldn't deny that I was growing more and more annoyed.
After almost half an hour of tossing and turning in bed, I gave up and headed for the bathroom. My worries were probably just a waste of energy. It was most likely something completely different from what I was thinking anyway. Maybe he was planning a baby shower? I'd never heard of men doing that for their baby mamas, but still. Aaron wasn't like other men, so who knew what was going on in his complicated mind?
"Argh, just give up already," I groaned into the mirror after brushing my teeth. I looked like a piece of paper that someone had crumbled, then tried to flatten and smooth out with their hands. I had fallen asleep with a messy bun, and now it looked more like a crow's nest than hair, and Aaron's old Stray Cats t-shirt sure had seen better days. I still loved it, though. Maybe most of all because it smelled like him.
I sighed and fixed my hair, before I dragged my feet towards the kitchen to get myself something to eat. After I'd stopped starving myself, I was always hungry. It was like my body was trying to compensate for the weeks of not eating as if it's been years, and if it continued like this, I would be the size of a small car before September and our little princess arrived.
"Good morning," Rocco said when he saw me. He was leaning on the kitchen counter with his nose in one of Aaron's old car magazines and a cup of coffee in his hand, but lit up with a smile when he saw me.
"Morning. Slept well?"
We said the last part almost simultaneously, and giggled a bit.
"Yeah, I did," I said eventually.
"How are you?"
It was strange seeing him again and not being completely cold and business-like, like we'd been in the hotel room in what felt like ages ago. In reality had been just a few weeks.
"Honestly?" he asked and gave me a look that said it all.
"I've been better."
I just nodded. What could I possibly say to comfort him anyway? I didn't even know if I should hug him or not. Were we back to being friends like before we started dating? Or maybe we would always have this uncomfortable 'your-my-ex-for-a-reason' relationship? But I didn't get to ponder much, because Rocco decided that a hug was okay. And when I felt his arms around me, it was like a huge stone fell from my chest. I even had to blink back a couple of tears when I hugged him back.
"I've missed you," he whispered. Then he cleared his voice and pulled away, and quickly corrected himself.
"Not like... I mean, we've both moved on obviously. I just miss your friendship, I guess. I don't have many left."
He made a short pause, and a bottomless sadness flushed over him. But it was just brief, and soon camouflaged by a smile.
"You look good, though," he complimented, and I gave him a dumb look that made him chuckle.
"You know what I mean," he said and glanced at my stomach.
"I'm happy for you."
I wasn't sure if he meant it or said it to be polite, and it was like he read my mind.
"I mean it, Marty. I've never seen you happier."
"Thanks. I wish I could say it back, though."
He shrugged again and went back to his coffee. He didn't answer.
"Just give it some time, Rocco. And we're both here for you. You know that, right?"
He nodded, but stared emptily down at the magazine. I didn't like it. He had the same look as Aaron had when I found him depressed and on the verge of his breaking point.
"I don't know if dad has talked to you about this yet, but I need to know something before I leave for the meeting with my attorney."
"Okay?" I asked and felt a bit worried.
"I just need to know if I can count you in or not."
I waited for him to continue, and felt a fist tighten in my stomach. Somehow I knew what he was going to say.
"It's about my grandfather."
I swear those words sounded like gunshots in my ears. The panic I'd tried to suppress so hard, was threatening to break through the surface so easily that that itself scared me.
"Hey," Rocco said with a soft voice. He knew me well enough to know how I felt about it.
"You don't have to. I think they have enough on him as it is, but it would certainly help the case if you could give your statement of what happened. You know... When..."
He cut himself off and pursed his lips, and I could see he was holding his breath. And when he finally let it out, it was strained and shaky. He was crying.
"I'm so sorry I did that to you, Marty. I wasn't thinking straight. I didn't think he'd actually harm you," he sobbed out, not able to hold his regrets back any longer.
I don't know how he knew, but I could only imagine how scared he was of his own grandfather, when that was his intuitive and very logical explanation. So I walked over to him and hugged him again.
"It's not your fault, Rocco. I mean, perhaps that part, but you didn't ask to grow up in a family like that, and if anything I should be the one to apologize for everything you've been through. But why didn't you say anything while we were married? You know you could talk to me about anything, and I still mean that."
We were both crying now. Both about his past and our failed marriage, but most of all because of the current situation.
"I don't know. I guess I was just trying to do what you're doing now. Forget about it and move on. I mean, I learned from the best. You know how mom is. She's the best at sweeping things under the rug and blame everyone else. And dad isn't that much better."
Then he smiled through his tears as we broke our embrace.
"Or was. I don't know what you did to him, but he's a changed man."
"Everybody keeps saying that," I giggled and wiped my cheeks. Then I searched for tissues, and handed one to Rocco as well.
"But your mother..." I started.
"Is she a part of it too?"
He nodded and sniffled.
"She is, but not in the way you might think. But can we please talk about something else now? I don't want to show up at my attorney, looking like a swollen-eyed mess, because that's..."
He didn't finish the sentence, and that itself was a clear sign of how bad it was. And considering what a horrible man his grandfather was, it could be summarized with the word gruesome.
"Okay. And Rocco?"
Our eyes met and my feelings were in turmoil, but I knew it was the only right thing.
"You can count on me."